One of the greatest legacies of leadership is the creation of new leaders. Part of that process involves having a defined career path and a merit-based system to channel people upward as they step through their careers.
In the Air Force, each career field had a pyramid chart that told an officer at a glance what it would take to move from the rank of Second Lieutenant to Colonel. Above the clouds, so to speak, were the flag officer ranks, the Generals whose promotion and selection was based on a different system.
A Sheriff’s Office should be no different. Each newly-minted deputy should know upon graduating from the academy what it will take to become a Chief (using the current rank). The Sheriff and Under Sheriff are more akin to the flag officers in that their system for selection is quite different.
There will be career progression up to what is now called a ‘Chief,’ (what we call them and their role is something we’re still sorting out). In looking at different Sheriff’s Offices in Colorado and other states, organizational structures vary widely. We will reorganize and streamline the organization to flatten the overhead and make operations more effective, but at the same time we will devise a clear path for getting to the top.
We’ll develop a career pyramid for the law enforcement professionals of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, one that will help guide a young deputy through a career. Here’s a rough idea what it will look like. We’ll build what’s in the middle once I am in the seat and have my staff make recommendations on the ideal path for the various ranks:
At the base of the pyramid, we will emphasize breadth of experience first in a career. Young deputies must learn how to be deputies and gain exposure to a broad array of career experiences. As the deputy grows in the Office, experience will deepen in narrower bands of emphases. All the while, leadership training and opportunities increase.
This approach means a deputy will have to make some choices. If the deputy wants to progress and get promoted, he must be willing to move about and experience as many different aspects of the Sheriff’s Office as possible. Staying idle or stagnant in one place will lower promotability. The idea is to produce a well-rounded LE professional and leader.
In order to make this possible, we will implement a totally merit-based approach across the board. This means:
- If someone is eligible to test for the next rank and he wants to test, then he gets to test. It’s the individual’s call, and not the chain of command’s. The chain is there to mentor and advise, but does not get to veto the individual’s choice.
- Promotion boards must be fully objective, with clear, fair, and faithful processes for promoting only the most-eligible and deserving. Once a promotion list is produced, and the Sheriff certifies it was done objectively, then he promotes those the board recommended. No exceptions.
- Assignments and promotions must be based upon who is most-deserving and most-qualified, not upon favoritism, campaign donations, or any emotional attachment.
- Allegations of misconduct must be handled with fairness, objectivity, thoroughness, and blindness. Everyone is treated equally in that all allegations are investigated completely and without emotion or bias. There must be NO favoritism, nor will vendettas be tolerated.
Dignity, Respect and a Non-Hostile Climate
Professional development and career progression are hampered when the climate is hostile, bullying, unprofessional or crony. Everyone must feel valued and respected, safe from sexual or other forms of harassment, and free to report abuse without fear of retaliation. There’s no place for that in a law enforcement agency, nor will it be tolerated on my watch.
My objective is to make the path for promotion and leadership clear from the moment a deputy graduates with a badge to the day she retires, hopefully as a ‘Chief.’ All along the way, she comes to work each day looking forward to the challenge that day holds, committed to serving the public, and excited to be part of a high-performance team that respects her as a professional.
God bless you all.